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Rough Country UCA & Bilstein 5100 Struts Review

Oceano Sand Dunes - Pismo Beach, Ca

(date: August 28, 2010)

Sorry no image gallery!!!

This past weekend we went camping at the Oceano Dunes, south of Pismo Beach. It was my first time on the sand with my Titan, and I was very happy with the outcome. When we first got on beach, drive along the coastline was pretty easy, even a 2wd sedan could make it without any problem. As we drove further, the sand got deeper and softer, that is when we started to have some trouble. We all made it, but we were spinning our wheels just to move at a crawl speed. And yes, no one has aired down there tires yet. Once we aired down to about 15 psi no one had any trouble at all. It is amazing how airing down your tires can make such a big difference. It was kind of funny to see all those people with RV's, trailers, 2wd trucks and even sedans trying to drive in the soft sand and getting stuck. And trust me there were a lot of people getting stuck. Sad to say I even had to pull out a fellow Titan owner who was buried up to their frame rails. Since there truck was 2wd they did not have any tow hooks in the front, so they tied the tow strap to their crossmember and they were lucky that it did not bend or break it when I pulled them out.

I think the Titan did pretty well in the Oceano sand dunes. The only time I max out the travel in the front is when I drove through some whoops at the foot of a hill climb. I had to punch it to gain some speed to make it up to the top. Other than that that titan did just as well as all the other street legal cars in the dunes. I am not sure if it the weight or if I should have aired down a little more but it seemed like I had a little more trouble with the hill climbs than my buddy's Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Xterra. I had about 18 psi in my tires, but I was worried to go to low because low profile tires (I was running 33" tires on 20" wheels with mud terrain tires). I also read that MT tires tends to dig into the sand instead of floating on top. I was able to climb every hill the other 2 trucks could do, but I always need more speed than they do. I think my lack of dune driving skills also played a role too, because I seem to have a tendency to let off the throttle to early.

It was well worth every penny to buy an aftermarket upper control arm if you use a leveling kit. Not only you get rid of the annoying clunking sound, you also regain the lost droop travel from the lift. If you never go of road  then you might not need to get a aftermarket UCA.

Over all the Bilstein 5100 struts performs very well on and off the road, it feels more firm but not harsh. The valves in the strut seems to know when to soak up the bumps when it needs to and yet it still gives you the firm control. I also have more confidence and control especially on a wet freeway while in a curve driving over pot hole. Usually when that happens it feels like the truck come off the ground a little and slides to the side, but now it just rolls over the bump without out the lost of traction feeling. Like I said this is only how it feels and may not be what actually happening.

As for the rear end I still have the OE stocks and I am not sure how much of a difference it would make while I was on the dunes. But on the streets I am hoping that after I change it out, it will reduce the body roll and the loose feeling when corning. In my previous truck it was a night and day difference when I upgraded my socks. I hope this next upgrade will be the same.


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